Transport for London is calling on international expertise to deliver the replacements for the cherished – but 53-year-old – Woolwich Ferries which carry two million passengers a year.

TfL has signed a contract with Polish shipyard Rementowa Shipyard to build the next-gen vessels following a design by Norwegian firm LMG Marin, working with Hampshire firm Keel Marine Ltd.

Two boats will replace the three which currently work in rotation. The efficiency and reliability of the new ferries will account for the reduction while the design team have been commissioned to strengthen the service’s “green” credentials, with lower emissions when they come into service next year.

The Ernest Bevin free Woolwich ferry
The Ernest Bevin free Woolwich ferry

The two 60m vessels, with a capacity of 150 passengers and about 45 vehicles, will be designed with a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system. The lithium-ion battery pack will optimise the fuel consumption by allowing one engine to charge the batteries when not powering the propulsion.

This will lead to fuel savings of 15% against conventional methods while reducing CO2 and NOx emissions.

The ferries will engage an automatic mooring system at the end of each short journey meaning the fuel-heavy thruster units will be practically redundant while specialist catalytic reduction systems, use of ultra low sulphur diesel and LED lights will help boost the ferries’ green credentials.

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